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Definition of catharsis

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Houghton Mifflin

ca·thar·sis  audio  (k-thärss) KEY 

pl. ca·thar·ses  (-sz) KEY 
  1. Medicine Purgation, especially for the digestive system.
  2. A purifying or figurative cleansing of the emotions, especially pity and fear, described by Aristotle as an effect of tragic drama on its audience.
  3. A release of emotional tension, as after an overwhelming experience, that restores or refreshes the spirit.
  4. Psychology
    1. A technique used to relieve tension and anxiety by bringing repressed feelings and fears to consciousness.
    2. The therapeutic result of this process; abreaction.

New Latin, from Greek katharsis, from kathairein, to purge, from katharos, pure

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